Heisman Watch 2018: Latest Race Predictions Entering Week 13

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 17:  Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide in action against the Citadel Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa has steadily topped the race for the 2018 Heisman Trophy, but the Alabama quarterback isn't quite a lock to win the award.

Entering the final week of the regular season, Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and West Virginia's Will Grier are within shouting distance. Washington State's mustachioed man Gardner Minshew has put together a year worthy of a trip to New York, too.

That trio is running thin on opportunities to catch Tagovailoa, though.

Following his heroics in last season's national championship, the sophomore headed into the 2018 campaign with enormous hype. He's only surpassed what were lofty expectations.

Tagovailoa has turned Alabama into an offensive juggernaut, propelling the scoring attack toward a program record. The 2016 squad amassed 582 points. With at least three games remaining in 2018, the Crimson Tide have already amassed 536.

Nick Saban built this dynasty with dominant defense. But now, he's showcasing the best quarterback in Alabama history.

The southpaw has completed 69.2 percent of his passes at a staggering 12.1 yards per attempt. For context, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield cruised to the 2017 Heisman while posting a 70.5 completion mark with 11.5 yards per throw.

Tagovailoa already holds a single-season school record with 31 touchdown passes, and he's headed toward the yardage mark. Overall, he's accounted for 35 scores with only two interceptions.

Oh, and he's only attempted one pass in the fourth quarter this year.

To even have a slight chance at overtaking Tagovailoa is a testament to Murray's outstanding season.

A first-round draft choice of the Oakland Athletics, Murray has thrived in what will likely be his only campaign as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. He's racked up 4,049 yards of total offense and 44 touchdowns while tossing just six picks.

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners calls a play during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma
Brett Deering/Getty Images

He has a real opportunity to become the second player in FBS history to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a single season. The only other is Deshaun Watson (Clemson, 2016).

In most years, Murray would be cruising to the Heisman. But between bad timing with Tagovailoa and a loss to Texas, the Sooners star is merely the likely runner-up in 2018.

That could change positively or negatively, pending his performance when Oklahoma takes on Grier and West Virginia this week. The winner will secure a place in the Big 12 Championship Game and have one final chance to pad their stats.

Grier has thrown for 300-plus yards in nine of West Virginia's 10 games and accounted for three-plus touchdowns nine times. His candidacy takes a hit because of the Mountaineers' two losses, but Grier should be a finalist this year.

Whether Minshew joins Tagovailoa, Murray and Grier at the Heisman ceremony probably hinges on these next two weeks.

The East Carolina transfer leads the FBS with 407 completions, 4,325 yards and 36 touchdowns in Washington State's pass-happy system. If the Cougs topple Washington and add a Pac-12 championship, his breakout season will end in New York.

          

Stats from NCAA.comcfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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